Weber ready to take over as Dakota Prairie principal

Courtesy photo: Sarah Weber

BROOKINGS – After 15 years at West Central’s School District, Sarah Weber will make the 60-minute trek up Interstate 29 to become Dakota Prairie Elementary School’s new principal. 

Weber, who is originally from Montrose, spent the past four years as curriculum director for West Central in Hartford. A curriculum director oversees learning district wide, while organizing the tools and resources that are needed to support students best. Curriculum directors also oversee all training and professional development with teachers. 

Before becoming the curriculum director for West Central, Weber was an elementary school teacher, teaching junior kindergarten or kindergarten, depending on enrollment numbers that year. During that time, Weber, who got her undergraduate degree from Dakota State, worked toward a master’s degree in science technology and an education specialist degree in educational administration and leadership from the University of South Dakota.

“It was kind of a natural progression (becoming a principal). I wasn’t sure back when I started getting different degrees, and my intention wasn’t to leave the classroom, but then a leadership role kind of came around six years ago and I moved into that leadership role,” Weber said. “I enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed planning for the district. I liked looking at the big picture and then going back and making plans on how to reach that big picture.”

Weber left the classroom and began to work in a more administrative role for West Central.

“I started doing different assignments for West Central. I was an instruction coach… they kind of moved me around based on what they needed,” Weber said. “I was an integrationist for a while, where you help teachers bring technology into the classroom.”

Weber then moved into her role as curriculum director following a few years of different assignments.

“The last four years I realized I just missed working with students,” Weber said. “As a curriculum director, you don’t work with kids. I get to see the results, but I don’t have direct interactions with students anymore. I wanted to make that change to being a principal because then I still got that leadership role but then I’ll also get daily interactions with the students.”

Weber began keeping her ear open for a principal job, knowing that she longed to work with students again. When West Central School District changed leadership again, Weber decided to jump at the principal opening at Dakota Prairie.

“I had been keeping my eye open, but wasn’t really sure (if it was the right time). We were making another leadership change here (West Central). In my 15 years, it would have been my fourth superintendent. … Those changes can be hard because it changes the direction of everything they (the school district) are doing,” Weber said. “If I was going to make another change, I decided to make a bigger change and go for the principalship that I was looking for. The timing all worked out right.”

Weber traveled to Brookings to interview for the Dakota Prairie job and met with the administration team.

“I could feel the passion (when speaking to administration),” Weber said. “It just got me excited, it brought back that excitement for learning new things.” 

Weber was then offered the job to become Dakota Prairie’s new principal. 

“We worked really hard over the last several years to establish a culture and a collective vision on what our elementary schools are doing. We don’t want competition between our elementary schools. We are all Brookings students. We are all Bobcats, and our previous elementary principals have worked really hard and we wanted to continue that approach, so as much as we were looking at someone that could lead our largest elementary school, we were also looking for someone that could fit very well with our team of leaders,” Brookings School District Superintendent Klint Willert said. 

“When we looked as a collective team, we thought that Sarah (Weber) presented enough information, enough strength in her background, enough skillset and mindset in how we want to view where we are going with our elementary schools. That appeared very compatible with our district vision, mission and goals,” Willert added.

Weber is excited to make the move to principal, citing a belief in reaching all learners. She is also ready to embrace any new challenges that may come her way.

“My focus is always what’s best for students, so no matter what the challenge is we are focusing on what is going to be best for the students and we make it happen,” Weber said. “It’s not always the easiest or what’s best for the adults, but its what’s best for our kids.” 

“I really appreciate that she comes with her experiences and her level of maturity in her leadership, the mindset where she is open to new ideas, and she expressed some real interest in continuing what we were doing with customized learning pathways in our elementary schools,” Willert added. “That is really important for us and many of our families, so we were excited about welcoming her into the process and seeing her as a successful candidate for the district.”  

Weber and her husband, Cory, have two daughters, Avery and Ella. She enjoys gardening and working with house plants. In the summer she also enjoys going to the pool and kayaking with her family. Weber is also an avid reader.

Weber joins the district in July.

Contact Addison DeHaven at [email protected]

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